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4.5 out of 5 stars15
4.5 out of 5 stars
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on 15 May 2006
This album is my accompaniment to insomnia (not to be mixed up with being a cure for it!). Birds is one of those albums that inexplicably sounds perfect at 3am in the morning. It also sounds pretty damn good during the rest of the day as well!

Fans of Bic's previous album, the stunning "Beautiful Collision", may initially be somewhat disappointed with Birds. I was lucky enough to see Bic in concert recently and she actually apologised to the audience for the depressing songs and suggested they would sound better if we were drunk. She was obviously joking, but there is an undeniable darker edge to this album and it contains nothing as radio friendly as "Get Some Sleep" or "Something Good", let alone her signiture tune "Sway". However, Birds is one of those albums that slowly gets under your skin and I now enjoy it as much, if not more than "Drive" and "Beautiful Collision".

The album begins splendidly with the first single, "Winning Arrow". While this is the closest thing to a pop song on the album, it also introduces the bittersweet tone that defines Birds with its overwhelming theme of heartbreak. The next songs, "Say After Me" and "Listen" are two of my favourites and would both make great singles. "Birds", "Ruby Nights" and "No Crying No More" showcase Bic's phenomenal vocal range to stunning effect. "Birds" is an eerie lounge song with a distinct jazz feel, while "Ruby Nights" and "No Crying No More" could almost be described as alt-country.

"If I Had You" is an exquisite love song, while "Captured" is 6 minutes of one of the finest voices in modern music. My favourite song, "That's alright", is one of the most upbeat depressive tunes I can think of, while "Blue Blue Heart" is simply depressing but irresistible. The album closes with another epic, suitably titled "It's Over". Again, this song perfectly demonstrates Bic's perfect pitch and tone.

I'm not sure why Bic Runga doesn't sell albums by the truckload. She is beautiful, writes her own songs, plays just about every musical instrument on her albums and possesses a truly exquisite voice. Birds is very highly recommended.
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on 17 January 2006
Birds is not an album to put on in the background. It needs to be listened to, rather than just being heard. There are indeed elements which sound like the Live with the CSO, but the cornerstone of that similarity is Bic's version of Nick Cave's And No More Shall We Part. The studio version of Say After Me (also on the live album) is her on Birds and, if anything, is stronger for the treatment it is given.
Like the Cave song, Birds is brooding and beautiful. It's not over produced, with the majority of it having been recorded with the whole band together as opposed to instrument-by-instrument. In particular, Neil Finn's piano work is exemplary, with always just the right contribution.
Sprightly songs don't abound but the almost-country No Crying No More and Blue, Blue Heart exhibit the lightness of touch found more on the previous album, Beautiful Collision.
Throughout the album, Bic's voice is wonderful. Real emotions abound song after song.
It's difficult to highlight any track as they all possess a richness either in sound or in the words, often both. The death of Bic's father not long before she recorded the album is reflected in some of the lyrics. This is one of the important differences from the previous album. Here, Bic displays a more mature side to her songwriting.
Overall, it's an exquisite album which demands listening. I'll admit I was quite surprised at the marked difference in tone when I first listened to it. Given proper attention, however, there are thrilling surprises on every spin.
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on 18 March 2006
Say after me and birds, are two of the best songs she has written. The rest of the album did take a few more listens to fully appreciate but I am very glad I took the time! It has a different tone to her other albums and is every bit as good as them.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICEon 28 September 2006
I came to this album having heard Bic's previous releases, BEAUTIFUL COLLISION and DRIVE. I think a lot of people, in this country at least, come to her music after hearing her beautiful song, "Sway" which appreared on the soundtrack for American Pie. Although I had her 2 other albums, I have to admit that I was dubious about buying this CD. For me, the problem is that, while she creates brilliant tracks like "Sway", she also creates tracks that are easily forgotten a more than a little lack lustre. However, with BIRDS, I have to say that I was more than pleasantly surprised.

I think this release is her most mainstream and accessible record to date. While anyone looking on Amazon can see that it has received mixed reviews, I think this CD is quite beautiful - I would even go so far as to say that I prefer this to DRIVE and BEAUTIFUL COLLISION.

Although there are songs that I tend to skip - "No Crying No More" being one of them - the songs which stand out for me are so good that I don't mind having the odd 'fillers'.

"Capture", the opening track, is just beautiful. It has become one of my favourite songs ever. As soon as I heard the lyrics the very first time I listened to it, the heartbreaking beauty of it just left me wanting more. My other favourite tracks include "If I had you", "Say after me", and "It's over".

For me, her voice on tracks such as these is just perfect.

I think if you are coming to Bic's music completely new, this is the best place to start. If you love this CD, then perhaps have a listen to her previous works. But even if, like me, you have her other music, please don't listen to this CD once and then give up. Give it a few listens, time to grow on you. If there really isn't anything on this album that moves you, I don't know what will.
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on 26 June 2007
I bought this album a while ago but never got round to writing a review until now.

Quite simply, it's great - beautiful, haunting and truly original. Yes, some of the songs need listening to a couple of times, but the arrangement of each song suits her voice so well that once it's got you, it's got you. I guess it's not quite so easily accessible as her previous two albums, but I think it's possibly her best one yet, and shows how she's really developing as an artist.

I "discovered" Bic back in 1998 and she's one of the few artists whose albums I have bought without having heard a single track, and will continue to do so.

Those of you who already have Bic's first two albums should definitely get this one. Those of you who haven't got any of her work should buy all three - you won't regret it!
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VINE VOICEon 30 March 2006
Bic Runga's third album is the most delicate of hers to date. With the exception of the excellent "Winning Arrow" and the sublime riffs of "Blue Blue Heart", this is a haunting yet beautiful album. Much like dark lounge music, this has heavy jazz influence and is like a sultry follow up to the Live At Christchurch CD (which is superb). Songs like "Birds" and "Captured" really show off the album well.
I must admit, it wasn't what I was expecting, but if you take the time to sit and listen to it and savour each song, you'll appreciate this album 10 times more than if you leave it in the background to wash over you.
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on 3 September 2006
This is one of the most beautiful, exquisite albums. Bic's voice is haunting. Most of the album was recorded live in-studio, with New Zealand's finest musicians, including Neil Fin & Anika Moa. Less radio-friendly, takes a couple of listens to fully "get". Worth the effort.
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on 14 October 2008
...this is definitely another great cd from Bic Runga. this cd has so many
gems that need to be unearthed with not a single play. it will grow on you
and the beauty will haunts you till the last track. i am completely satisfied with her progression since her debut cd. it is just too bad the marketing people didn't do enough to promote this immensely talented chanteuse when she was in Asia a long while back(and not only in Asia, but the rest of the world should know her!).
...hopefully one fine day, people will know her music and other New Zealanders' musicians/bands as well. i am not a kiwi, but am i glad and honoured i happened to fall in love with her music and her voice, and i happened to get her cds at the right time!
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on 22 December 2006
This is without any doubt my favourite album. Like other reviewers I associate it with my travels - I heard it first in New Zealand and have listened to it pretty much every day since... the only downside to that being that now, when I'm listening to it whilst waiting for a train in cold, wet England, it tends to make me want to burst into tears because of the memories I associate with it - but that's not Bic's fault! I can't think there are many, if any, other albums I have wanted to listen to every week, never mind day. At various times ethereal, goose-pimply, consuming, bold, down-right gorgeous and out of the ordinary.
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on 11 June 2011
Another winner from Bic. I didn't think she could ever top "Beautiful Collision", and to be fair, with this album she hasn't. However, it's extremely close, and considering BC is a masterpiece, that is still very high praise! There isn't a bad track on Birds, showing once again what a great songwriter she is. Beautifully sung vocals, touching and thoughtful lyrics, great melodies - it's all here. Fantastic, and already one of my favourite cds.
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